Sunday Sermon for July 19, 2020, the Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

Readings: Wis 12:13, 16-19; Rom 8:26-27; Mt 13:24-43

As we continue watching the anarchist agenda unfold before our eyes, our readings today provide us with some hope and a good challenge.  The hope comes in two forms.  First, there is the hope for those who are on the wrong path.  Wisdom tells us that because God is the master of might, He rules with leniency and judges with clemency.  Does God not have the power to put an end to the nonsense we are witnessing?  Of course, He does.  Then why are we not seeing it?

Perhaps what we read in the Gospel today gives us the best answer.  When the servants find weeds sown among the wheat, the master tells them to leave the weeds grow until the harvest, lest in uprooting the weeds, some of the wheat might also be uprooted.  So, God leaves both the children of the Kingdom and the children of the evil one to be together. 

This can be a temptation for the children of God to think that if God does not squash the evil, then perhaps we should join them.  At the same time, it can also serve to make the children of the Kingdom stronger by having to resist the temptations and persevere in doing what is right.  The greatest hope, beyond making the good better, is that the good example provided by the children of the Kingdom might be the means for the conversion of those who are on the wrong path.

As Wisdom says, we have good reason for hope that God will permit repentance for our sins.  If we can be forgiven, then those who are children of the evil one today, can also repent and become children of the Kingdom.  Many of us were once in that category.  Having tasted what the devil has to offer, it is no longer a temptation to go back.  We have to pray for those who are so confused and have bought the myriad number of lies that have been told to them.

There is also a challenge for us in the readings today.  As we have already seen, we need to be children of the Kingdom in the midst of a world that has gone astray.  What we will soon be experiencing will make or break us.  St. Paul, in the second reading, reminds us of our weakness, but he also reminds us that the Holy Spirit comes to our aid in our weakness.  As things continue to intensify, we will not be able to rely on our own strength.  Neither will we be able to rely on our money, our material possessions, or our own abilities.  Everything is going to be worthless and our weakness and dependence will be revealed.

Will we turn to God, trust Him, and do His will?  The Holy Spirit, St. Paul tells us, prays in us because we do not know how to pray as we ought.  This does not mean we do not have to do our part.  We need to make the effort to pray; the Holy Spirit will augment our prayer and obtain for us those things for which we should be praying, but are unaware of them.  This prayer will conform us more and more to the Lord and help us to rise above the fray in the troubled times ahead.

However, rising above the fray does not mean that we place ourselves above others or that we do not have a part in what is happening around us.  The first reading, for example, tells us that those who are just must be kind.  If we are going to be conformed to God, then we must bring His love into the world.  Our world is plagued by darkness and selfishness.  Love is the opposite of the selfishness and it is the light that will lead to safety those who are walking in darkness.

Remember, our Lord told us that we are the light of the world.  This light, this charity, will be needed when people need a priest for confession.  It will be our duty not only to point them to the priest, but to help them with an examination of conscience, to teach them how to go to confession, and to bring them to the priest.  What a beautiful experience of mercy for that person: not only to get to confession, but to have someone who was kind and charitable to them in their need.

This reminds us that we must teach with our words, but it is our actions that will touch peoples’ hearts.  People are made for the truth, but their minds will be opened, most often, only after their hearts have been opened.  Our Lord commanded us to love.  There are no exceptions to this command.  We are called to love as Jesus loved: to the end!

Fr. Altier’s column appears regularly in The Wanderer, a national Catholic weekly published in St. Paul, Minn. For information about subscribing to The Wanderer, please visit